Despite being left to the last minute, Powell River army cadet Katheryn Sheldon’s application to go on a World War I and II battlefield tour in March 2018 was successful.
Sheldon is with Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps, BC Regiment (Duke of Connaught’s Own), one of 11 candidates selected for the experience. Sheldon said the other candidates had a month to prepare for the application, but she had only one week.
“We found out about it late,” said Sheldon, 16. “I had to get reference letters in a week, do research on one of the locations we're visiting, write an essay and provide a video explaining the project, and also about myself as a cadet, and get a passport.”
Once everything was completed, the application was put together in 48 hours, according to Sheldon’s commanding officer captain Alyssa Holley, who said the corps is thrilled about the achievement.
“I've only be a commanding officer for almost a year, and the fact that we get to send a young lady is a thrill for us, because normally this type of program is designed for males,” said Holley. “Now that we have a young lady stepping up to a position such as this is phenomenal for us and we are very honoured to have her as part of the corps.”
Opportunities for cadets to experience the battlefield tour are made possible at no cost through the BC branch of Army Cadet League of Canada, the provincial government and Royal Canadian Legion BC/Yukon Command.
In addition to Vimy Ridge, where the most celebrated Canadian World War I battle was fought 100 years ago this year, the tour will include the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam, Flanders Fields in Belgium, as well as stops in Normandy and Paris. The tour will also take in the infamous Passchendaele front, the site Sheldon wrote her essay on.
“Basically, Passchendaele was a failure, a lot of people died and it didn't really do that much to help out the war overall,” said Sheldon.
Sheldon is a grade 11 student at Brooks Secondary School and has been a cadet for four years. She currently holds the position of regimental sergeant major, which is the most senior leadership appointment a cadet can hold.
“Katheryn is everything I expect of a leader,” said Holley. “I chose her for the position she now holds because she has a few more years in the program still. The fact that the cadets respect her and look up to her is what I look for; warrant officer Sheldon was the appropriate choice for that.”
Local cadet corps supply officer Larry Gemmill said Sheldon has all of the right qualities to be a cadet and leader.
“She has always been an outstanding cadet,” said Gemmill, who has been involved with cadets for 40 years. “You can tell by the way they step up to community events, such as the Santa Claus party at the Legion, she's volunteered for that, the Salvation Army Christmas kettles and the Legion poppy drive; she has always taken part in these types of things.”
Sheldon said she became involved with the cadets at the urging of her parents.
“Both my parents were in cadets,” she said, “and they suggested it was something I could do.”